Monthly Archives November 2007


Hi Everybody. Here’s what’s goin on:

  • My buddy Matt Kloskowski did a post last week called “Why Lightroom?” on his “Lightroom Killer Tips” blog that started a great discussion (and is creating some real buzz). Check it out right here.
  • In that same vein, on this week’s episode of Photoshop User TV, I did a special segment on Lightroom vs. The CS3 Bridge and Camera Raw, and where Lightroom fits in, inspired by comments I got from a number of attendees at my “CS3 Power Tour” in New York City two weeks ago (namely, “What is Lightroom?”). Here’s the link to watch it online (it’s the first segment in the show).
  • Terry White, of Terry’s Tech Blog fame, and co-author of “The iPhone Book,” is quoted in the current issue of Newsweek in an article on GPS units. You can read the article right here.
  • Thomas Testi, over at Blog Critics Magazine posted a very in-depth review of my Photoshop 7-Point System book today, and he does a good job of showing how this book differs from my other Photoshop books. Here’s the link.
  • Want some Tuesday photo inspiration? Go check out photographer Jill Greenberg’s “Manipulator” web site (if the name sounds familiar,Jill gained fame earlier in the year with her “crying baby” shots). Jill has a very unique style (and a signature Photoshop finishing style that is very slick). Click here to check it out her work.

That’s it for today’s new folks. Make sure you scroll down to the next post which answers some questions about the Elinchrom Octabank I keep talking about.


Since I mentioned the Elinchrom Octabank in my New York Studio Post two weeks ago (and in my shots of Photoshop User News anchor Stephanie Cross), I’ve had a steady stream of emails and posts asking questions about it, so I thought I’d go into a little detail on a rig I use.

The Octa Light Bank (which is it’s more formal name), that I use is actually three parts:

  1. An Elinchrom Ranger Battery Pack (it’s important to get this battery pack, so your Octa isn’t stuck in your studio, so you can use it for on location lighting gigs).
  2. An Elinchrom Free Light S Flash Head (which comes as part of the “Ranger Kit” so you get the battery pack and flash head together)
  3. A Free Light S Flash Head, which mounts inside the very large 74″ (diameter) Elinchrom Octabank softbox, and it aims at the back of the softbox, so the light wraps around and comes back out toward your subject, somewhat like a really giant umbrella, but the way it’s designed you get virtually no falloff from the center to the edges (less than 1/4 stop from the center to any edge), which gives you the most glorious, wrapping light I’ve ever seen.

So, it’s those three pieces (a flash head, a battery pack which powers the flash head, and the Octabank softbox itself). Now, there is an optional stand you buy for it on B&H Photo, but I recommend using a heavy-duty C-stand instead, and I would get one with wheels to make it easier to move this very large unit around (I use a Matthews C-stand).

By the way; another reason you want the battery pack, even in the studio, is so you can move the whole unit as one piece, without worrying about cables getting in the way (you plug straight into the battery back, and then mount the battery back to your stand).

Now, this rig certainly isn’t cheap, but I actually think it’s a bargain, because if you get this one rig, you’re pretty much set for portraits (you’ll wind up using this one light and a reflector, and that’s about all you need). The Ranger Kit at B&H Photo (which is the flash head, battery pack, a hard case, and accessories), goes for around $2,029, and then you need the 74″ Octabank softbox itself, (which goes for around $1,100) and then I recommend a Matthews’s Hollywood C-stand to hold it all (for around $150, plus you should buy some wheels for it).

So, altogether you’re talking around $3,300, but if you’re really serious about getting a gorgeous, fabulous, top-pro quality strobe, this is the one I recommend (and now couldn’t live without). Thanks to one of the world’s best shooters, Joe McNally, who turned me onto this rig (it’s the one he uses to shoot everything from corporate clients, to national magazines, to celebrity shoots), and he was right–it totally rocks!

Note: If you happen to have a Profoto flash head, Elinchrom makes a speedring that lets you use the Profoto as your strobe, which fits into the Octabank, so if you’ve already got the strobe, you could just buy the Octabank softbox.

On Saturday I flew down to Miami to shoot the Ford 300 (Part of the NASCAR Busch Series) with my buddy (and fellow Photoshop World instructor) Joe Glyda, and race photographer Mark Allias (the photo of Joe and I above was taken by Mark). It was just a beautiful day, with absolutely gorgeous weather, we had “All Access” media passes, so we could pretty much shoot from anywhere (and we did), and we just had a ball.

The track shots shown above were taken with my Nikon D2Xs using a Nikon 200-400m f/4 VR lens (from LensProToGo), supported with a Gitzo GM-3550 Mountainer 6X Carbon Fiber monopod (which is marvelous, by the way), and the shots in the Pits were taken with a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR lens. NOTE: most of the shots with the 200-400mm were taken in the D2Xs’ High Speed Crop mode (and they were all shot in Raw).

The daylight shots were taken at 100 ISO, but the race didn’t start until later in the day, and to keep my shutter speeds fast enough to freeze the action, I had to keep raising the ISO, first to 400 ISO around 5:00 and then to 800 ISO once the sun went down and the bright track lights came on.

I shot from a number of different vantage points (up high, at track level, and from in the pits themselves). Before the race was over, I staked out a position in nearly the front row of photographers over at Victory Lane, and was able to snap that photo you see of winner Jeff Burton holding up his trophy (while shielding my camera gear from the celebratory champagne/beer/Gatorade shower). Then I grabbed my gear and headed straight back to the airport in time to catch the last flight home.

I didn’t even get to look at my shots until Sunday evening, safely after my Tampa Bay Bucs put a “whompin'” on the Atlanta Falcons, to move two games ahead in our division (but hey, who’s counting). Anyway, here’s a few shots from the day (you can click on them to go to a page with larger versions). Thanks to Joe and Mark (who stayed to shoot the Ford 400 today), for hanging out and shooting with me. You guys rock!


Adobe_LogoAdobe today announced a bunch of great updates to all kinds of software including Photoshop CS3, Photoshop Lightroom, Camera Raw, Bridge, and the DNG Converter. Here's what the NAPP members home page says:

In a recent rush of activity by Adobe engineers, there are several major updates to software from our friends at Adobe. Photoshop Lightroom has been updated to version 1.3 to improve Mac OS 10.5 Leopard compatibility, Camera Raw now supports some of the latest cutting edge cameras, and Photoshop CS3 Sports the new version number 10.0.1 to knock out quite a few small but annoying compatibility issues for both Mac and PC users. Oh yeah, and remember our old friend Bridge CS3? Well it's up to v2.1.1 and sports a cool new HQ preview in the Advanced panel as well as some important little maintenance issues.

If you're a NAPP member the full update details are available here.

For non-members, Terry White's blog has a rundown of the features and updates here.


Wednesday night I was a guest on Shawn King’s excellent “Your Mac Life” radio show, and of course, we talked about my Photoshop 7-point-system (Shawn had lots of in-depth questions about it), but I think it was some of the other things Shawn asked that made it one of my most revealing interviews yet.

Shawn touched on everything from whether I do paid endorsements for products, to questions about Adobe CEO Bruce Chizen stepping down and Adobe’s future, to questions about my start in this business (and my film-shooting days), including the real reason I decided to publish a magazine 10 years ago, to how people react to my quirky sense of humor (or lack thereof), to a talk about Adobe making a version of Photoshop available online.

You can listen to the interview right on their web site by clicking right here.